3-Cm Fine Structure Masers: A Unique Signature of Supermassive Black Hole Formation via Direct Collapse in the Early Universe
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CitationDijkstra, Mark, Shiv Sethi, and Abraham Loeb. 2016. “3-Cm Fine Structure Masers: A Unique Signature of Supermassive Black Hole Formation via Direct Collapse in the Early Universe.” The Astrophysical Journal 820 (1) (March 10): 10. doi:10.3847/0004-637x/820/1/10.
AbstractThe direct collapse black hole (DCBH) scenario describes the isothermal collapse of a pristine gas cloud directly into a massive, M_BH=10^4-10^6 M_sun black hole. In this paper we show that large HI column densities of primordial gas at T~10^4 K with low molecular abundance - which represent key aspects of the DCBH scenario - provide optimal conditions for pumping of the 2p-level of atomic hydrogen by trapped Lyman alpha (Lya) photons. This Lya pumping mechanism gives rise to inverted level population of the 2s_1/2-2p_3/2 transition, and therefore to stimulated fine structure emission at 3.04 cm (rest-frame). We show that simplified models of the DCBH scenario amplify the CMB by up to a factor of 10^5, above which the maser saturates. Hyperfine splitting of the 3-cm transition gives rise to a characteristic broad (FWHM ~ tens of MHz in the observers frame) asymmetric line profile. This signal subtends an angular scale of ~ 1-10 mas, which translates to a flux of ~ 0.3-3 microJy, which is detectable with ultra-deep surveys being planned with SKA1-MID. While challenging, as the signal is visible for a fraction of the collapse time of the cloud, the matching required physical conditions imply that a detection of the redshifted 3-cm emission line would provide direct evidence for the DCBH scenario.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:32072407
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